Hay River flood repairs, mitigation estimated to cost over $50 million

·3 min read
On the evening of May 12, water still sat on some roads in Hay River. Cost estimates from the flooding will be presented to town council on June 28.  (Emma Grunwald/CBC - image credit)
On the evening of May 12, water still sat on some roads in Hay River. Cost estimates from the flooding will be presented to town council on June 28. (Emma Grunwald/CBC - image credit)

It could cost Hay River, N.W.T.'s town council nearly $52 million to repair the community after devastating spring flooding hit the community.

The estimates were included in a report released on Friday by Glenn Smith, Hay River's senior administrative officer, and will be on the town council's agenda on June 28.

The second largest community in the N.W.T. was evacuated in May when flood waters reached historic highs.

Residents returned a few days later after waters receded to discover damaged roads, homes and key infrastructure.

The preliminary cost estimates revealed the true extent of the damage, with repairs expected to cost $22 million and mitigation to cost an additional $30 million.

Although the claims haven't been submitted yet, Smith said he expects the territorial government will cover nearly half the cost — over $23 million — through its Disaster Assistance Policy.

"A recommendation to Council will be brought forward in July and will include approval to submit applications through the Disaster Assistance Policy which is thought to be the major financial source for supporting recovery and mitigation work," he wrote in the report.

N.W.T. Premier Caroline Cochrane told CBC News in late May — before the costs estimates were released — that she expects the territorial assistance program to be able to handle the recovery, but said she's willing to call on the federal government for aid if need be.

The Disaster Assistance Policy sets out the guideline for residents, small businesses and community governments looking for financial assistance following natural disasters.

The policy was updated in mid-May to allow residents and small businesses to apply for up to $240,000 in assistance. That's more than double the previous maximum assistance amount of $100,000. There is also no cutoff for the amount of assistance community governments can apply for.

A combination of insurance and additional government funding is expected to cover the remaining costs, according to the price breakdown in the report.

Water treatment plant, landfill, roads severely damaged

Recovery costs were broken down by area and included which projects were a priority, timelines for completion as well as next steps to repair and mitigate from flooding in the future.

Some of the more costly repairs include the Water Treatment Plant Line, which is expected to cost about $10 million with an additional $20 million for mitigation.

The lift station is expected to cost over $4 million, the report said.

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

A detailed engineering assessment from Stantec will provide its guidance as the town decides what needs to be replaced or repaired at the station.

Mitigation efforts on the lift station are expected to cost over $1.2 million, the report said.

The flooding also exacerbated issues with the Hay River landfill, the report said, and repairs there are estimated to cost $310,000.

"The lifespan of the Hay River landfill has been a concern in recent years and the 2022 flood event has accelerated this decline significantly," the report noted.

Roads took a significant brunt of the flood damage, with Hoffman Way being among the more costly — expected about $320,000 to repair.

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